Written by MichaelJM on 17 Sep, 2006
Skala is one of Kefalonia’s typically popular seaside towns, and we found a great little parking spot in the centre of town at the top of the main street. There’s a quiet little square near the church (it’s being renovated, so we can’t have a…Read More
Skala is one of Kefalonia’s typically popular seaside towns, and we found a great little parking spot in the centre of town at the top of the main street. There’s a quiet little square near the church (it’s being renovated, so we can’t have a look in), where the locals seem to congregate to catch up on their gossip, but as we turn the corner, we are walking down the tourist trail. The main street, leading to the sea, is bordered by restaurants, small supermarkets, tacky tourist shops, and tour operators. It really has nothing much to commend it to the visitor.But at the end of this pedestrian town are a couple of real treats. From an elaborate square with a variable fountain, we could see why visitors come to Skala more than any other town on Kefalonia – it has a fantastically long beach, which stretches for a good few kilometres in both directions, and bordering the beach are the indigenous pine trees. Parasols and beach loungers are carefully line up and sun worshippers were out in force. Not my idea of fun, but apparently if you want to stay in Skala, you’d be well advised to book in advance. The chances of you picking up a room on spec are pretty remote.Signposted out of this square is the Roman Villa. There is no indication of distance, but it only took us about 5 minutes (and that was at a leisurely saunter). Surprisingly, admission to view them was free, although we had read in guidebooks that there was a "modest entrance fee," and from the end of the path, the modern construction that houses the mosaics suggested that we were about to be disappointed. But these Roman floors (discovered in the 1950’s, presumably as a result of excavations after the quake) are in superb condition. There’s a viewing stage around them, which really does enable a decent view of the tiles. Two are typical Roman scenes, one a warrior engaged in a fight with wild animals and the other a ritual being held near to a sacrificial altar. The other tiles are classic decorative type and no less interesting.Having viewed all, we continue the footpath round and walked along the beach, dipping our toes in the warm Ionian Sea. The beach is incredibly well maintained and the part at Eliou-Pronon has been awarded blue flag status. Unsurprisingly, there are loads of water activities available in the area, including pedalo and canoe hire, scuba lessons, and boat excursions. We weren’t around to see the Caretta, the loggerhead sea turtle, but these are prolific in this area (although a couple of rogue turtles have apparently made it up to Agostoli), and they can be seen from sunset onwards. Guided walks do start from Skala, so if you’re holidaying in town, this sounds like a perfect way to see this animal. Close
They say that the best time to Sami is at night. Well, perhaps they are right, because this is a small town on Kefalonia on the east coast and seems to have little else to commend it other than being where they filmed Captain Corellis’…Read More
They say that the best time to Sami is at night. Well, perhaps they are right, because this is a small town on Kefalonia on the east coast and seems to have little else to commend it other than being where they filmed Captain Corellis’ Mandolin. I don’t think that in all the journals I have written I’ve ever recorded such a negative view on a place that I’ve visited, but Sami has achieved this accolade – perhaps if I’d seen the film, I may have had a different perspective.We found ample parking just along the sea front from the harbour and enjoyed a short walk back through the port to the main street. It looked and felt like a ghost town. To be sure there were restaurants and shops. but it had a general feeling of being ill cared for and unloved.As said, it achieved notoriety as the place where they filmed Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, and shortly after the film was released, hoards of visitors packed in to view the place. I haven’t seen the film, perhaps I now will, so I couldn’t quite see what the fuss would have been about. However, it still resembles a film set, perhaps “Gun Fight at the OK Coral.”The town has the front promenade, which is the scene greeting many Greek Island hoppers as they disembark the ferry from Ithaka or mainland Greece and I can’t help but feel that many will feel the disenchantment I felt, rather than the excitement of landing on the pretty island of Kefalonia. Behind the front is a parallel street of fairly uninspiring shops and that’s it! Well, there is a harbour with yachts and small boats with tavernas grouped around, but the sad thing about Sami is that it’s commercialised in an unattractive way so down the main promenade, there are slot machines and small rides for the children.Just outside of Sami there are some attractive and notably redundant water mills (as can be found near Lassi except in Sami the water returns to the sea), the caves of Drogarati, and the underground lake of Melissani. At one point near the harbour, we saw a group of people gazing into the water and taking photographs; we just had to investigate and found hoards of small black fish swimming up to the surface and piling on top of each other as they fought over pieces of bread being thrown down to them. Perhaps one of the highlights of our visit to the centre of Sami.However, a quick straw poll of people in our apartment village suggests that it is much better at night with some half-decent restaurants and a far busier feel to the place. We could not be convinced enough to pay a return visit! Close
Written by GB from Devizes on 28 Oct, 2005
Sitting as it does in a wide bay, Sami was once the island’s capital and is the sole survivor of Kefalonia’s four city states. Everyone knows, of course, that Sami was used to recreate a wartime Argostoli for the filming of Captain Corelli’s "Mandolin" in…Read More
Sitting as it does in a wide bay, Sami was once the island’s capital and is the sole survivor of Kefalonia’s four city states. Everyone knows, of course, that Sami was used to recreate a wartime Argostoli for the filming of Captain Corelli’s "Mandolin" in 2000. Being ardent fans of the film, Sami is therefore a must-see for us today.
We enter the town from the west and drive down the road towards the harbourside. “It’s a bit rundown,” says Caz, and I’m inclined to concur. Holes in the road, houses with shutters hanging off them, cars that look like they’ve just competed in (and lost) the local demolition derby, and a general air of tattiness: our image is fading rapidly...
The wide main square is where we leave the jeep to stroll along the harbourside. There are a few decent-looking tavernas here, all offering “catch of the day,” most hanging on till the last seconds of the summer to ensnare some late-season customers while they can. We see a few rundown-looking hotels and a couple of tourist shops, their stock now almost depleted.
Suddenly, there it is, can it be…? Yes, it is, it’s... CAPTAIN CORELLI’S SNACK BAR!! Half expecting to see Nicholas Cage and Penelope Cruz enjoying a doughnut, we stroll by only to be disappointed. Can this really be all that Sami has to offer? The answer to that is an astounding YES.
If ever a place got complacent and decided to rest upon its Hollywood laurels, then it’s here. It’s no surprise that the majority of British tour companies don’t even bother with Sami anymore, and I can’t say that we blame them.
I like to illustrate my journal entries with the maximum four photographs; I’m going to be hard-pressed here to find four things worthy of a picture. Fortunately, a fisherman ambles into view and I catch him with his bag of sardines as he mooches by. I do then find the pretty church up a side lane (that’s two then) and click away here.
We do “find” the central square that was mocked up as Argostoli, but no thanks to the local information boards. Maybe Sami feels that we don’t need telling?
Without wishing to appear flippant, there’s just one thing I can say about Sami: God help her if she ever experiences another earthquake, but at least there’s nothing much left to fall down or to be damaged.